HKRU Premiership

Hong Kong’s Ben Rimene capable of Johnny Sexton’s Six Nations heroics, says Kowloon kicking guru Scott Sneddon

The 32-year-old Sneddon works with the HKRU as a specialist coach while plying his trade in the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 February, 2018, 1:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 February, 2018, 10:12pm

Johnny Sexton’s nerveless 83rd-minute drop goal was the highlight of the opening week of the Six Nations and Kowloon kicking specialist Scott Sneddon is confident Hong Kong’s Ben Rimene could have pulled off the same feat.

Sexton’s effort saw Ireland home over France and Rimene has twice booted Societe Generale Valley to victory in the Old Mutual Men’s Premiership this season, including against Kowloon last week.

“Ben did it on Friday evening against us, it wasn’t 45 metres out but I would definitely back him to deliver a kick under pressure like that,” the Welshman said. “I’d probably back Matt [Rosslee] to do it as well.”

Sneddon has worked closely with Rimene, Rosslee and a handful of other players in his role as kicking coach for the Hong Kong Rugby Union, something he ties in with his playing and coaching role at Kowloon.

The 32-year-old is in his first season in Hong Kong after replacing former England international Olly Barkley in both the HKRU and Kowloon roles.

Sneddon played for Cardiff, the Glamorgan Wanderers and Newport in a career in which he says he was “there or thereabouts but unfortunately didn’t quite make it” at professional level.

He has spent a large part of his career coupling playing with kicking coaching, working with Rosslyn Park in England’s national one competition in recent years while also running a private kicking business.

“I just sort of found a bit of a niche about 10 years ago, I thought there was an opportunity to go and specialise in one part of the game,” Sneddon said.

“I’d love to do three, four years here and then look at moving on to somewhere in Europe or in the southern hemisphere and try my hand full-time in one of the professional set-ups.

“It’s a great opportunity here to learn from the guys within the set-up, [Hong Kong coach] Leigh Jones has worked closely with [England boss] Eddie Jones, hopefully I will pick up a few things and build up my coaching experience.”

Kowloon fly half Jack Neville soaks up lessons from former England player Olly Barkley

Sneddon was recruited by Kowloon first and foremost as an assistant coach to James Scaysbrook but has seen plenty of playing time because of the unavailability of star fly half Jack Neville due to national duty and a number of injuries in the Kowloon backline.

Kowloon tackle Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC on Saturday in the last minor round of the season and Sneddon hopes his side are yet to peak after notching only four wins thus far.

“We haven’t been as successful as I had hoped but I wouldn’t say we are a million miles off it given the amount of close games we’ve had,” he said.

A whole new world: former England international Olly Barkley joins Kowloon coaching staff for start of Hong Kong Premiership campaign

The round’s other matches see the Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers look to lock away the league championship against Bloomberg HK Scottish, while Valley host Natixis HKFC.

Valley could still pinch top spot if they win with a bonus point, Tigers lose and the five-time reigning grand champions can erase an inferior points difference of 40, while HKFC can snatch second and a week off in the first round of play-offs with a victory of their own.